The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

Published 15 January 2015 by Doubleday

From Goodreads:

To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists. 

Just goes to show.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every evening. Every day she passes the same Victorian terraces, stops at the same signal, and sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess seem so happy together. 

Then one day Rachel sees something she shouldn’t have seen, and soon after, Jess disappears. Suddenly Rachel is chasing the truth and unable to trust anyone. Not even herself.

Tense, taut, twisty and surprising . . . The Girl on the Train creeps right under your skin and stays there.

* * * * 

When I first started reading this, I could immediately identify with Rachel, the eponymous girl on the train.  Much of my daily commute is spent looking out of train windows however Rachel goes one step further than me.  She actually makes up a life for one of the couples in the houses that she passes each day.  She sees ‘Jess and Jason’ (who are actually Megan and Scott) as having the perfect life – far different from the reality of hers.  Appearances, however, can be deceiving and when Rachel deliberately involves herself in their lives, she opens up a whole can of worms and puts herself in danger.

I love these twisty tales full of intrigue with unreliable narrators and flawed and dysfunctional characters.  Rachel is in her thirties, divorced and lonely.  Her ex-husband Tom lives with his new wife Anna and their young child in the house that he and Rachel used to live in and Rachel just can’t let go. She is also an alcoholic and her life is something of a car crash.   When she thinks she sees something from the train that doesn’t look right, she just has to get involved but because of her alcohol induced blackouts, she only has a very hazy recollection of events and is unsure whether what she does remember is fact or fantasy.  

The narration is shared by three women, Rachel, Megan and Anna and the timeline jumps from past to present, depending on who is narrating, so to keep up, you need to keep an eye on the dateline at the beginning of each chapter, although it is easy to follow.  None of the main characters, the men included, seemed particularly likeable or trustworthy and my allegiances and sympathies shifted throughout the book.  The story starts off slowly, introducing the characters and their backstory and then the pace and tension escalates.  Piece by piece we are fed information and have to decide who to believe.  Secrets are gradually exposed – but which of them would do anything to keep their secret hidden? 

To go into any more detail about the story would spoil it.  Paula Hawkins has created a cleverly structured storyline with a cast of such convincing characters and the intrigue and plot twists will really mess with your mind. This is a cracker of a read and if, like me, you are a keen fan of psychological thrillers and mysteries then I can highly recommend this one.  I certainly will be eagerly awaiting this author’s next book.

This was the cover of my proof copy – a brilliant idea and I actually prefer this to the real cover above. 

I received my paperback copy from the Amazon Vine review programme. 

About the author: 

Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. 

Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller.

You can find out more by following on Twitter, Facebook or via Paula’s website


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